Mace tracks the lead times of 38 works packages and, Gardiner & Theobald analyses in detail movements in the market for mechanical and electrical contractors.
Lead times are on the increase. Eight

sectors have seen a rise since the last Lead times article and reduced lead times reported only in stone wall and floor finishes.

Drylining, plaster and screeds (up) have increased by two weeks, and materials now take 12 weeks to arrive on site. Companies report an increasing level of design input at the front end of contracts, which has contributed to the lengthening wait. In addition, the sector remains active.

Demountable partitions (up) factories are busy as firms struggle to cope with short-term demand. As a result, lead time has grown by a week, to reach 12 weeks. However, this increase is expected to be temporary as supply catches up with demand; the lead time should fall back by a week next quarter.

The long waits required in the specialist bespoke joinery (same) sector throughout 2000 appear to be continuing in the first quarter of this year. Eighteen weeks is the required lead time for this area of work.

The manufacturing period rose by two weeks for general joinery (up) to make 16 weeks the current lead time. Workshops are full and waiting times are expected to grow further during the year.

Suspended ceilings (same) are still taking nine weeks to manufacture, leaving the overall lead time static at 17 weeks. This is expected to rise in the middle of the year as more projects emerge from the pipeline.

No change has yet been recorded in the 18 week lead time for stone wall and floor finishes (same) but this is expected to increase soon as the sector is extremely busy. High volumes of work are being discussed with key suppliers.

A one-week rise in the manufacturing period for VAV units (up) has increased the overall lead time to nine weeks. Although companies are seeing a lot of activity, the factory-line approach in this sector means that a small increase in requirements can be more readily accommodated than by other industries.

Lead times for Electrical packages (up) have jumped three weeks to 20 weeks overall. Companies expect that 20-22 weeks will become the norm during 2001, as enquiries remain at a high level. Many report that a shortage of qualified electricians is being covered by increased use of electrician's mates. Fire-detection systems, although not specifically listed in the table, also require 21 weeks to be on site.

Generators (up) and UPS (up) have also both seen their lead time increase by one week, as demand continues apace.

The overall trend is positive as the new year gets under way. Mechanical, electrical and plumbing companies expect to be busy in the months ahead, which will be reflected by lead times increasing as the year goes on.

Lead Times

Going up
Drylining, plaster and screeds
Demountable partitions
General joinery
VAV units
Electrical packages
UPS Staying level
Specialist bespoke joinery
Suspended ceilings
Stone wall and floor finishes Going down
Stone wall and floor finishes


Lead times